For a long time now, Player-versus-Monster-Player (PvMP) in the Lord of the Rings Online has been a "game within a game," and the PvMP people have been a "community within a community," a dedicated subset of players within the whole. A number of players will only break from the Ettenmoors just long enough to blast through new Player-versus-Everything (PvE) content, and then return to PvMP. Some dedicated creep players don't even do that - they have one or two PvE characters, possibly low-level, and ignore them in favor of the very different play-style of monster characters.
Overall, the creep community is quite small. It has a rather limited appeal to the casual audience - monster players are limited to one zone, rewards are intangible (Destiny Points and Infamy, but no gear), ranking is much slower than leveling in PvE, newly-rolled monster characters are seriously disadvantaged and the challenge is considerably higher. So what's the draw? Well, the classes aren't gear-based, advancement represents skill and time rather than money and luck and the challenge is considerably higher.
The same can be said for freep-side. Dedicated PvMP freep players are a distinct breed, requiring a very different skill set and gear load-out than for PvE. Guardians don't worry about threat generation, for example, because player-controlled creeps choose their targets by entirely different criteria. PvMP-spec Hunters are far more aggressive than group-spec, and Hunters using PvMP tactics in groups often end up getting chewed out by tanks and healers. And casual interest in PvMP is relatively low - ranking up in the 'Moors and earning the top Ettenmoors gear pretty much only makes the player better at PvMP, and the PvE side of things doesn't really improve.
Well, according to Turbine game developer Jared Pruett, some of this is about to change.
For some time now, players have wanted better incentives for participating in PvMP. The general consensus was that the available rewards were not worth the time investment required to attain them. We agreed and have created a new suite of PvMP armours that are comparable to the Book 3 instance rewards, but with skill mods that are more PvMP-centric.
Players are given new incentive to participate in PvMP with the addition of new class armor sets and newly-designed insignias that can be slotted on legendary items. These runes, when stacked with one another and combined with the set bonuses from the new armor sets, provide massive bonuses to PvMP aspects of each class. This gear is no less polarized than previous Ettenmoors armour sets, but does hold up reasonably well when compared to PvE raid sets.
Creeps are also getting some attention this update. New players will start with tougher monster characters, no longer requiring the lengthy and hazardous ramp-up to acquire Rank 0 skills and passive traits through PvE-type questing. A number of rank-based skills have had their requirements adjusted - some higher, some lower. Additionally, creepside has been made somewhat more newb-friendly with the inclusion of basic introductory tutorials and a reorganized Gramsfoot with more specific racial areas. Warg Stalkers will use the Warg area for training new skills and upgrades, and Uruksand Orcs will use the Uruk/Orc camp.
Reactions have been - wait for it - mixed. Creeps in particular feel very strongly about this update. Yes, it is new-player friendly, but at what cost to more experienced players? Many creep players feel that the Ettenmoors is already very heavily weighted towards the freep side in terms of balance, and this update favors freeps yet more and freeps yet less. Reactions are generally more favorable freep-side, with the addition of new armor sets and runics.
Details of these changes can be found in the Update 2: Monster Play Developer Diary.